As a purpose-driven company, giving back to the local communities where employees live, work and operate is not a new concept for Trimble, or its donor-advised Trimble Foundation Fund, which granted more than $300,000 to organizations in 2020 alone.
Since its inception in 2017, the Trimble Foundation has made tremendous strides towards fulfilling its mission to give back to the communities where Trimble does business. The Foundation’s primary philanthropic focus areas, or “pillars,” are natural disaster relief and recovery, and female empowerment and education, as well as supporting charitable initiatives at Trimble’s local offices around the globe.
In October 2020, Albert Momo, vice president and executive director of emerging markets and funded projects for Trimble, was appointed chair of the Trimble Foundation Fund, taking the reins from Trimble CEO Rob Painter, who led the foundation since its creation.
“I am grateful to transition this role to someone whose passion for, and experience in, philanthropic work will inspire and engage Trimble employees, and achieve a lasting impact on the world,” Painter says. “It has been an honor and a privilege for me to serve as the chair of the Foundation's board, and to witness the work of our dedicated board members past and present.”
Momo, who hails from Cameroon and currently lives in the Washington, DC, area, says he was drawn to the Foundation’s work because he sees the massive opportunity the group has to create change as an authentic extension of Trimble’s values.
“The Foundation is a continuation of what we do as Trimble,” Momo says. “Coming from Africa myself, I have had an interest in development for a long time, and how an individual can improve communities using whatever means you have, whether it’s large development agencies or small philanthropic organizations.”
In addition to the foundation’s current pillars, Momo pioneered the addition of a fourth focus area in 2020 on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which supports organizations that work to expand educational and professional opportunities for underserved communities.
Combining Engineering with Aid
Momo’s career path closely aligns with the goals and vision of the Trimble Foundation Fund. With advanced degrees in civil and systems engineering, as well as computer science, Momo has worked at a variety of companies, governmental agencies and aid organizations prior to joining Trimble, using his extensive knowledge of geographic information system (GIS) and satellite imaging to advance each group’s work.
One of Momo’s previous positions was with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he led a team that worked closely with NASA to use its geospatial data and technologies to create tools to help developing countries turn information into actionable insights.
For example, a country like Bangladesh with limited access to satellite imaging, didn’t have advanced river flood prediction capabilities, making it difficult to alert residents to unsafe conditions during monsoon season before it was too late to evacuate. Momo says in the year before USAID got involved, an estimated 1,200 people died during this seasonal flooding on the Padma River, a main tributary of the Ganges River.
“We used a satellite for sea level monitoring to collect information on the river and were able to provide eight days’ advance notice to residents of potentially deadly flooding,” Momo explains. As a result, fatalities were reduced to single digits.
Momo oversaw many similar life-saving and innovative projects during his five-year stint at USAID, and says this work was incredibly fulfilling on both a professional and personal level.
“This experience was really a highlight of my career,” Momo explains. “We saved literally millions of lives through our efforts.”
Momo has bold aspirations for the future of the Foundation, including a strong emphasis on promoting action around diversity, equity and inclusion. When Momo came on as board chair last year, he advocated for creating this new pillar and funding organizations that support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ communities.
“I am a big proponent of Trimble’s DEI work, and I’ve been very vocal in sharing my thoughts on how to engage these communities,” Momo explains. “DEI has to start here at home, going into neighborhoods in the U.S. that have less access to opportunities and education, and increase interest in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] starting in Kindergarten. I want to make sure kids see people like me and say, ‘Oh, I can be like that guy, he’s not that different from me.’”
In 2020, the Foundation provided its first $100,000 in DEI-related grants to two organizations that work to expand access to education and develop the talent pipeline for underrepresented groups, and address issues that create disproportionate inequities among groups of people. The Advancement Project, which focuses on eliminating racial injustices in the U.S., and All Out, which mobilizes people across the world to stand up for LGBTQ+ communities, each received $50,000 to support their programs.
As a global company, Trimble prides itself on serving diverse markets and customer groups in regions around the world. Trimble’s commitment to diversity recognizes that its 11,000 global employees are the company’s greatest asset -- diversity of gender, race and nationality drives the company’s best thinking, something that Momo believes whole-heartedly and hopes to expand.
“I see this as just our first action to address this problem. Everything we can do to improve DEI is great.”
Theory of Change
Momo’s approach to the Foundation’s work follows the “theory of change,” which he explains is deeply rooted in understanding a problem and setting clear indicators of what a good result looks like, so programs can be measured for effectiveness, refined as needed, and replicated in other areas.
“The theory of change is the thinking behind how a particular intervention will bring about results. We are doing good work that makes a difference in people's lives -- we should be able to monitor and claim credit for achieving outcomes, to measure success, and to improve the way we tell our story.”
“You won’t solve all the problems, but you can focus on understanding clearly the change you want to see,” Momo says. “We can all be part of the solution.”
For more information about the Trimble Foundation and its work, visit foundation.trimble.com.